I grew up in state parks.  My dad worked for many years as a park superintendent.  At one house I could open a bedroom window and go to sleep hearing the sound of a nearby waterfall.  My brother and I used to climb gorges.  We went fishing all year long and spent summer days on beaches and swimming. 

I was surprised by how many park gates are unattended and people simply ignore paying a fee based on the honor system

The old man also talked constantly about a lack of money available for needed park maintenance.  When I was in my early 30s and working as a television reporter, I did an interview with one of his successors.  When I was wrapping up I explained my dad’s old gripes.  “Nothing has changed,” is what the guy told me.

When I came to Idaho, I was surprised by how many park gates are unattended and people simply ignore paying a fee based on the honor system.  It’s not free!  I renewed the registration on my car December 31st and I decided to add the park pass.  This was after someone beeped a horn behind me as I was stuffing a park fee in an envelope a couple of years ago.

On Saturday I made a drive to Bruneau Dunes.  There was an attendant.  When I told her my family history was the cause for the yearly pass, she grinned.  When I was leaving she gave me a hearty wave.

Bruneau Dunes is an absolute gem within the Gem State!  Camping is a bargain.  The views are a bargain.  It’s also kid friendly.  The ones I saw sledding were having a ball.  It’s worth five bucks for a single visit and for me it was worth the small fee I paid last winter.  Now any weekend I’m looking to get away for a few hours I’ve got this great option.  It’s cheaper than a movie.  It’s cheaper than a burger and fries at most restaurants.  It’s a better deal than any other recreational experience I can find.

 

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